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Fresno State @ Boise State Preview: BSU Edition

The Broncos and Bulldogs face off for the third time in two seasons

NCAA Football: Mountain West Championship-Fresno State at Boise State Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

One team looks destined for a special season, the other has had a season filled with frustration. Historically speaking, we would think Fresno State would be the latter. However, the Bulldogs have dominated the conference this year and look like they are destined for a special season. The Broncos have played spoiler for the Bulldogs before, can they do it again? Boise State will need a lot of things to go their way to come up with the victory, here are my keys to the game:

Can the Broncos piece together a team that can challenge the Bulldogs?

This season has had a lot of drama and many fans have been left wondering if the Broncos aren’t destined for a special season. Friday night, the Broncos can salvage a disappointing season with a victory over Fresno State. Boise State has endured countless injuries this season, especially on the defensive side of the ball. There are a number of Broncos that are questionable for the game. Will Hightower, Hatada, and Nawahine be ready to go? If so, will that be enough to overcome the absence of Whimpey, Pierce, Moa, and likely Lui?

The Broncos displayed their depth on the defensive line with an impressive showing against BYU. Will they be able to do the same against a more talented Fresno state squad? Bronco fans better hope so, or it is going to be a long Friday night.

Can Rypien recover?

Brett Rypien struggled against BYU, He was missing open receivers and making bad reads. Boise State will need the best version of Brett Rypien if they have any chance at a victory. The Bulldog defense is the best Boise State has faced this year. The offensive line has to give Rypien time to work in the pocket and a healthy Hightower would help a ton.

Can the run game be productive?

If the run game can be decent, the Broncos might be able to come away with a victory. The offensive line and Alexander Mattison have shown some promise the last two weeks, BSU will need to build on that this week.

Will the secondary rise to the occasion?

There is no denying that the Bronco secondary has struggled since the injury to Deandre Pierce. Avery Williams and Tyreque Jones have struggled in recent weeks. Will they be able to challenge Fresno State’s dynamic receivers?

Get some pressure on McMaryion:

Weaver and Frazier need to get to McMaryion early and often. The Bulldogs have struggled to run the ball this season. McMaryion and his receivers have had enough firepower to overcome their struggles in the run game. For that reason, the Broncos need to put some pressure on the Bulldog passing game and force them to beat them on the ground.

Win the turnover battle:

This will likely be the story. Win the turnover battle, win the game.

Vegas Line: Fresno State -2

My Prediction: The Broncos are a home underdog for the first time in a long time. Will this be enough motivation to come away with a victory. I don’t think so, the Broncos won’t have enough going on the ground and the Bulldogs will win the turnover battle by one. Fresno State 24, Boise State 17 in another defensive battle.